Don Quixote to breathe new life into Cairo ballet

Ahram Online , Sunday 19 Apr 2015

Based on the famous novel by Miguel de Cervantes, the Cairo Opera Ballet Company will stage Don Quixote in Cairo and Alexandria

Don Quixote
Don Quixote by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: from the Cairo Opera's promotional material)

Based on choreography by Marius Petipa and with music by Ludwig Minkus, the ballet Don Quixote will be staged at the Cairo Opera House between 21 and 24 April, followed by performances at the Alexandria Opera House between 28 and 30 April.

“Don Quixote is one of the most important works of the Cairo Opera Ballet Company," Erminia Kamel, the troupe's artistic director tells Ahram Online.

After many years of working with the company – which until the late 1980s carried the name of Cairo Ballet Company and operated under the Academy of Arts – its then artistic director, the late Abdel-Moneim Kamel, managed to finally integrate the troupe into the newly built Cairo Opera House (National Cultural Centre), giving the dancers the new name of Cairo Opera Ballet Company. Don Quixote, which premiered in 1991 at the Cairo Opera's main hall, was the second major production representing an important pillar of the professional ballet troupe.

"We started with Swan Lake, moved to Don Quixote and then Nutcracker. Those three elements laid the foundations of the professional troupe with a proper repertoire that we have today, over 20 years later," Erminia Kamel says.

Abdel-Moneim Kamel knew that ballet very well and danced it many times with the Bolshoi in the Soviet Union.

"He followed the classical Russian school and demanded the utmost precision from the troupe. Today, we restage the ballet as he has directed it," Erminia Kamel says.

From 1991 until the 2011 revolution Don Quixote was one of the regularly performed works in the company's repertoire. It was following 2011 that the company lost a lot of foreign dancers, and many of its commitments with international guest directors were suspended.

The situation seems to be changing now.

On the opening night, 21 April, the company will be joined by two dancers from the Latvian National Ballet Company in the main roles: Elza Leimane-Martinova, a graduate of Riga Choreography School, and Artur Sokolov.

Kamel added that Aivars Leimanis, the Latvian troupe's artistic director will be also present in Cairo, and there are already talks about a possible cooperation.

As such, Erminia Kamel believes that Don Quixote might be a new chapter in the history of the Cairo troupe, and a "much needed artistic refreshment after four challenging years." 

Kamel points also to a few highlights of the performances, saying that "the Latvian guests will dance during one evening. The second night, 22 April will see Anja Ahcin and Ahmed Yehia as protagonists. On the third night, 23 April, Ahmed Nabil will dance Basilio for the first time."

Rehearsal for Don Quixote by the Cairo Opera Ballet Company (Photo: courtesy of the Cairo Opera House)


Cairo Opera Ballet Company
Cairo Opera Orchestra
Conductor: Nayer Nagui
Director: Abdel Moneim Kamel

21-24 April, 8pm
Cairo Opera House, main hall, Zamalek, Cairo
28-30 April, 8pm
Alexandria Opera House (Sayed Darwish Theatre), Alexandria


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